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Walsh optimistic about OpenSkies despite industry turbulence

British Airways chief executive Willie Walsh is confident of the prospects for newly launched transatlantic subsidiary OpenSkies, despite the recent demise of several all-premium carriers.

OpenSkies' fully laden Boeing 757 made its first commercial flight between Paris Orly and New York Kennedy on 19 June. The start-up marks the company's first operations between continental Europe and the USA, made possible by the newly implemented European Union-US open skies agreement.

Walsh says: "While the economic climate has worsened in recent months, we believe that OpenSkies can compete effectively. It has a low cost base and support from British Airways in key areas such as sales and marketing.

"This differentiates it from some new airlines that have failed recently, which were operating in isolation without the backing of an established carrier. We are confident that OpenSkies will have a successful future."

His comments come at a time when the all-premium transatlantic model is under scrutiny following the collapse of Maxjet, Eos and Silverjet. Openskies' aircraft are configured in a low-density layout, with a total of 82 seats across three cabins.

OpenSkies is due to take delivery of a second ex-BA 757 later this year. It plans to have six aircraft by the end of 2009. The carrier says other European destinations under review include Amsterdam, Brussels, Frankfurt and Milan.

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